Children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.
Shining like stars in the sky.
Does this come close to your dreams for your kids and grandkids? It does for me. Let’s look at the passage.
“Do everything without complaining or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, children of God without fault in a crooked and depraved generation, in which you shine like stars in the universe as you hold out the word of life—” Philippians 2:14-16a NIV
Stop the tape. Did you catch the first part? The conditional part of that verse?
“Do everything without complaining or arguing.”
Paul is speaking of: The Moan Zone.
At the Root
Complaints and arguments stem from:
1) not getting what we want, or
2) having to do something we don’t want to do.
James 4:1-3 puts it this way, “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? . . . You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”
Let’s look at some roots of complaint against God.
1. Our Agenda
For me, letting go of my to-do list was a point of contention. God repeatedly pulled the rug out from under me until I learned to hold the day’s schedule with open hands. Now, I start each day by asking what’s on His agenda.
2. Trust Issues
For some, the issue may be one of trust rather than a poor attitude. People wounds and misunderstandings of how God works can bring up arguments from the most faithful of children.
Forgiveness. Being vulnerable to someone who has hurt me. Both were places I didn’t want to go. Yet I knew not going would be worse. Still, God and I talked a lot.
3. Negative Influences
Teasing, comparison, and sarcasm can strike deep. Five positive thoughts are needed to counter a single negative one. Are our homes unbalanced? God says to speak life—self talk included. More and more I come under conviction regarding words.
Have any of these three made your home a Moan Zone?
Polish Up Your Shine
Here’s some ways to help our stars shine.
1. Get in the Word.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2
Transformation comes when the Holy Spirit and the living Word work in tandem in our hearts.
James 1:17 says, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
God is for us. Therefore, submission is a win-win.
2. Choose joy.
Life is too short for me to spend it grumpy. I want a mindset of “I get to” rather than “I have to.” My feelings don’t have to rule. I choose.
“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:4-7
Look at the opportunities in these passages to develop healthy thought patterns: rejoice, pray, give thanks. Note: this is the standard behavior. All. The. Time.
3. Close the door on negativity.
Where do negative thoughts gain entrance? Music? Entertainment? Friends? News? Poor attitudes? We are gatekeepers with gatekeepers in training. Don’t expect Disney to handle this. In fact, Disney has always required due diligence.
“I will not look with approval on anything that is vile. I hate what faithless people do; I will have no part in it.” Psalm 101:3
4. Open the door to truth and light.
How can we counter the dark influences in the world? Music. Art. Scripture. Wholesome entertainment and literature. What leaves us encouraged?
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9
5. Find the silver lining.
What about the icky stuff? At the moment? Alzheimer’s and dementia in my mother-in-law and my mom. Life is hard.
James helps us once again.
“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds,because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything . . . Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:2-4, 12)
Even more good things come from the icky stuff because God filters it. Everything that comes to us goes through Him first and He uses it for our good (Romans 8:28). This helps me persevere. Pure joy? Not there yet, but perseverance and faith? Yes.
The word of life, which Philippians says we hold out, will never appeal to others if our shining is dimmed by words of complaint. And if we argue and complain to God, we probably won’t care to share Him.
An attitude of trust and confidant faith in a loving God shines in a world driven by feelings and darkened by chance. God is for me. He has a plan for my life. Nothing is left to chance. Even the hard stuff has purpose.
Shut down the Moan Zone. Rejoice. Give thanks. Pray.
Count your blessings. No, really.
Make a list of entertainment choices that line up with Philippians 4:8-9.
Consider having a jar of coins. Reward positive words. Fine negative ones. Make the reward five times better than the fine.
Keep a gratitude journal or jar. Make two entries each day.
Parents, share stories of treasures mined from tough times.